National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) Cyber Security Must Be Strengthened In India

National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) Cyber Security Must Be Strengthened In IndiaJudicial data grids and servers hold sensitive and crucial documents of parties to the dispute. The judicial institution has the dual task of ensuring user friendly website on the one hand and ensuring robust cyber security of the website and data grid on the other hand. The same is applicable to the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) of India that is in its infancy stage right now. As on date the NJDG is focusing on providing data and information about pending cases in district courts. But in future, the NJDG would be clubbed with other judicial infrastructure and this would raise serious techno legal challenges before the Indian judiciary and Indian government.

For instance, consider a fully fledged e-courts system in India. When a new dispute would arise, it would be filed electronically. From financial details given for payment of court fees and other fess to filing of document in the court, everything would be managed in a digital manner. This would make these sensitive documents and information vulnerable to cyber attacks and cyber crimes. Not only the sensitive information has to be protected from unauthorised access but even the integrity and authenticity of the stored information and documents has to be ensured. This is not an easy task and would require tremendous techno legal expertise on the part of Indian judiciary and Indian government.

Now consider another example. Courts in India these days allow free wireless Internet access to litigants, lawyers and judges. Such wireless Internet access can provide convenient services to these stakeholders. But this service can also be a cause of concern especially for threats from man in the middle attacks (MITM). Wireless services are not that secure even after use of password and they can be cracked with appropriate software and tools.

It is for these cyber security and data security reasons that Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) and Centre of Excellence for Cyber Security Research and Development of India (CECSRDI) have suggested that a robust cyber security policy of India is needed that can safeguard the interest of all stakeholders. It may take some more time before Indian government would upgrade the cyber security infrastructure of India. Till such time judicial data grids would remain vulnerable to sophisticated cyber attacks and malware.

Right now even basic level data manipulations and data modification are creating troubles for judicial websites and data grids. In one such example, the software of the Patna high court was manipulated to affect the current proceedings for an economic offence committed in 2012. This is a clear instance of breach of security of the judicial database available online for which the CBI has initiated an investigation. This is an alarming trend in Indian cyber crime where documents are being used to forge and fabricate the copy of the FIR to secure regular bail. A document once modified, can change the entire outcome of a case and bail proceedings. Clearly, the judicial databases and data grids are not cyber secure and there is an urgent requirement to make them secure.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) Cyber Security Must Be Strengthened In India

National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) Of India

National Judicial Data Grid Of India

Information and communication technology (ICT) has many beneficial purposes that can be effectively used for legal and judicial purposes around the world. However, use of ICT for legal and judicial purposes is still evolving around the world and India has also taken few good steps in this regard. Nevertheless, the goal of legal enablement of ICT systems in India is still a distant dream and Indian government and judiciary has to work really hard to achieve that goal.  For instance, establishment of e-courts in India has to address many techno legal challenges that are daunting in nature. Mere data gathering and analysis in itself is a big task that requires many techno legal compliance and efforts on the part of judicial ICT infrastructure.

At the apex level we have the e-committee of the Supreme Court of India that lays down policies and strategies regarding legal enablement of ICT systems in India and judicial technology infrastructure. E-committee is also managing the e-courts project of India and some very significant steps have already been taken by the e-committee in this regard. For instance, the second phase of the e-courts project of India is already under progress and it may be finished in coming years.

A very significant initiative of the e-committee is the establishment of the national judicial data grid (NJDG) of India. NJDG would help in gathering, consolidation and analysis of district-wise pending cases so that necessary action can be taken in this regard. Indian judiciary is facing mammoth backlog of cases and most of them can be easily disposed of using alternative dispute resolution (ADR), online dispute resolution (ODR), e-courts and other mechanisms. For instance, consider the simple Online Disputes Resolution & Cyber Arbitration Portal of TLCEODRI where ODR is used to resolve dispute of national and international stakeholders. If we look at the scope and ambit of services provided by this portal, it is obvious that it can take off a significant load of backlog of cases from Indian courts. Such simple and effective dispute resolution mechanisms must be developed by Indian government and Indian judiciary to reduce unnecessary burden upon Indian courts.

The National Judicial Data Grid can be a good starting point in this regard as NJDG is a part of the on-going e-courts Integrated Mission Mode Project. NJDG will work as a monitoring tool to identify, manage and reduce pendency of cases. It will also help to provide timely inputs for making policy decisions to reduce delay and arrears in the system, facilitate better monitoring of court performance and systemic bottlenecks, and, thus, facilitate better resource management. The NJDG is covering all categories of cases, including those relating to juvenile justice system.

One of the key benefits of computerisation of courts is the automation of case management. An online legal case management system (OLCMS) can be a really handy tool in the hands of Indian government to formulate judicial policies. As all courts are to be linked to be part of a National Judicial Data Grid, this would result in the creation of a National Arrears Grid.  Citizens will also be able to avail services through a Judicial Service Centre at every court complex. These would include filing of cases, availability of certified copies of orders and judgments, information about case status etc.

However, presuming the NJDG to be a technology aspect alone would be a big mistake. NJDG would raise complicated techno legal issues in future. These include issues pertaining to privacy protection, data security and data protection, cyber security, cyber law due diligence, etc. It is not feasible to list all these issues in this article but the list is going to increase from time to time.

India has also embraced projects like national e-governance plan (NEGP) and digital India that is working in the direction of making legal and judicial functioning digital. Further, use of Internet of things (IoT), smart cities, cloud computing, etc would add further complexities to the equation.

Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) has been managing the exclusive Techno Legal Centre of Excellence for E-Courts in India (TLCOEECI). This initiative is supported by other techno legal initiatives of Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) and Perry4Law’s Techno Legal Base (PTLB). We believe that working in association with Indian government and Indian judiciary; we can truly achieve legal enablement of ICT systems in India under NEGP and digital India projects.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment